Been exercising for weeks and yet you haven’t seen significant improvement in your midsection? The abdominal muscles are very easy to tone but only if you’re targeting the right muscles. Unfortunately, certain areas of the abdominal muscles are typically neglected. Case to point: the oblique and the intercostal muscles. If you don’t tone these groups of muscles, you’ll end up with a flabby-looking midsection.
What are Oblique and Intercostal Muscles?
The obliques are muscles located on the sides of your mid-section, the area where the abs muscles are located. The obliques start from the bottom of the rib cage right down to the groin or pubic area. It’s made up of internal and external oblique muscles. The main function of these muscles is to help you bend from side to side as well as to twist your upper body. When the oblique muscles are toned and strong, it gives added support to the back muscles that minimizes the risk of back pain and poor posture.
On the other hand, the intercostals are muscles located on the top of the obliques, just near the side of the chest. Between the lats and the intercostals is the serratus. The serratus and the intercostals are usually targeted and toned by professional body builders.
3 Exercises That Target Obliques and Intercostals
Targeting the obliques and intercostals helps create a tinier waistline and perfectly complements your toned abdominal muscles!
Dumbbell Side Bends
This exercise helps develop the stability of the spine by engaging the obliques. Standing up, hold two dumbbells on each hand. Lower a dumbbell to your side, allow the obliques to lift the dumbbell slowly up and down. Keep your other hand behind your head, bend your elbows. Repeat on the other side.
Abdominal Side Twists
This is a great exercise to tone and strengthen the obliques and the intercostals at the same time! Stand up with your legs apart. Using a broomstick or a gym stick propped on your shoulders, twist from side to side. Do this slowly to warm up and flex the muscles. Now start building the pace, twisting quickly and vigorously. Do 100 repetition each set.
Do note that this exercise doesn’t require weighted equipment to build resistance. A metal gym stick has enough resistance to tone the side muscles or the obliques.
Planking is an excellent way to strengthen and tone abdominal muscles as well as strengthen the back. Of course, this is a very challenging position and achieving the proper form will depend on your fitness level. Side planking tones both the obliques and the intercostals!
Lie on your left side and keep your knees straight. Prop your left elbow and forearm under your shoulders, elevating your upper body.
Now, engage your core as if you’re bracing to be punched in the gut. Let your core hold your upper body up.
Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from the shoulders to the ankles. Keep your head in line with your shoulders and ankles too. Hold this position for as long as you can. Breathe slowly and deeply and feel your core tightening. Do the other side and repeat.